Visual Merchandising: The Top 3 Principles

When planning visual merchandising you
must consider many aspects but of course not everything is equally important. As
so often happens in marketing, it helps to look at visual merchandising from the
customers perspective. So what do customers expect from the product
presentation when they enter the store? I’ve summarized the customer’s
expectations for you in three principles. First, make the merchandise visible.
Second, make the merchandise tangible and easily accessible; and third, give
shoppers good choices. Principle number 1: Make the
merchandise visible. This point seems to be obvious but it’s not what I found in
many of the stores that visited and analyzed over the years. Sometimes I
found that merchandise was hidden behind large point-of-purchase displays. This
may be great for the merchandise on display but I strongly feel that the
products in less prominent positions have a right to be seen as well! On other occasions the products were
missing from the store shelves completely. They were simply not
regularly restocked and no effort was made to conceal the gaps. Half empty
shells may have been the norm in the Eastern Bloc prior to the revolution in the late 1980s but they’re inexcusable in the current age of inventory control systems. Shoppers will only buy what they see. Therefore, it’s an essential task of
visual merchandising to make products visible. Principle number 2: Make the
merchandise tangible and easily accessible. Shoppers tend to touch most
products before buying them. Eyesight is the most common sense with which humans gather information but let’s not forget about touch. Touching help shoppers make an emotional connection with a product Seeing is believing — but touching is feeling. Think about the
softness of that cashmere sweater or the steady and secure grip of a cellphone.
The sensuous curves of a shampoo bottle and the feeling of sitting on a soft
sofa.They all sell the product. Let’s also not forget that giving the
shoppers a chance to feel product is a major advantage that brick-and-mortar
stores have over online retailers. Many retail stores use locked display cases or
find other ways to prevent customers from helping themselves in selecting the
products. For example, they place them on high shelves that petite shoppers have
no chance of reaching. It’s understandable to keep expensive jewelry under lock
and key to prevent shoplifting but the vast majority of products should be
easily accessible. Recently I visited a dazzling japanese bookstore in Bangkok,
Thailand. The store looked really great from a macro perspective. When it took a
closer look at the books, however, I was shocked: every single one of the
thousands of books in this store was individually wrapped in an impenetrable
plastic wrapper. a sign in each book shelf declared: Kindly unwrap the book at
the nearest counter. I did that with the first two books but then I stopped. After
all, how many books can you expect the kindly smiling sales clerk to unwrap for
you? This was one of the very few occasions that I left a bookstore without making a purchase. For many products shoppers
don’t want to see just the packaging but the product as well. Stores where such
products are sold should display a selection of unpacked goods. For example, an
electronic store should have a selection of demonstration cameras on display to
allow the customer to feel each product, see how it works and decide whether to
purchase it based on their own experience. Many demonstration products may of course be unusable after having been touched by thousands of customers
but isn’t that a small price to pay for the many additional products sold?
Principle number 3: Give shoppers good choices. Consumers want to have full control of what they’re doing. Visual merchandising should be used to give
consumers the feeling of freedom of choice, not that they are being forced into
making a purchase. Some stores offer only
relatively few choices on purpose. This strategy follows the scarcity
principle. The scarcity principle is based on the assumption that because
available objects are rare, artificially limiting the range or availability will
increase the perceived value of those goods. Examples are limited editions or
sales items that are available for only a very short period of time. The scarcity
principle can be part of a successful visual merchandising strategy. If it’s
used excessively, however, it can restrain shoppers perceived freedom, which will in
turn lower the shopping enjoyment. At the same time there is also a dark side to
having choices. Shoppers are confronted with too many products they get
overloaded. Therefore measures have to be taken to reduce the risk of
overstraining customers and provide a balanced display of choices that works
for the customer. Now this will be the topic of our next video.

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